This one really surprised me. After giving the last volume a five, and almost foregoing description of the plot (because of how basic and conventional it was), the series has returned with many of its faults undone.
Ranmaru is quickly revealed to now be a symbiote, with a living phantom dormant in his body, and responsible for the strange tattoos that cover his arm. The members of Tokko also begin taking a greater interest in Ranmaru, with the biker-chick Kureha stealing him from his boss to reveal the nature of Tokko and their enemies. A shadow-agency fighting against the phantoms that were born out of the Machida massacre (in which a demon rose out of a gate in the Machida apartment grounds, and slaughtered the majority of residents), Tokko also largely consists of victims of the same tragedy.
This, in turn, puts forward one of the major themes of the series, as each member strives for their own individual revenge against the phantoms. To gain this revenge however, the Tokko division must awaken and rely on the phantoms in their bodies, which are among the 108 which must be destroyed (with each harbouring a piece of the Box of Dirge) to save the human race. This threat comes in the form of the gate at Machida, which can only be closed with enough pieces of the Box of Dirge, with which it was opened, or loosened yet further if enough of the pieces, harboured in the bodies of mature phantoms, are cast therein.
Whilst Tokko grow increasingly conscious of Ranmaru, and the role he may play as a result of the phantom in his body (to Kureha’s pleasure, and Sakura’s dismay), Ranmaru becomes equally fixated with Tokko. The first volume saw Ranmaru take position within the first division as an investigator, but noticeably emboldened, he strives ever more intensely toward uncovering the truth about Machida and the death of his parents. With attempts on Ranmaru and his sister Saya’s life, this volume brings Ranmaru’s thirst for revenge to the forefront of the viewer’s attention, with the Tokko division offering him a position if he is willing to awaken the phantom (without an understanding of the consequences).
With a developing story, somewhat better animation (though this remains the major fault of the series) and serviceable opponents, Tokko builds on the strengths of the first volume, mounting suspense and intrigue through well-timed character and story developments. A clear improvement on the previous volume.
The violent and sexual content of the series means its strictly for older viewers, but they should have enough to enjoy in this now increasingly mysterious and rapid story.